Monday, June 27, 2011

A Jacket Knack Interview: FLUTTER

Erin E. Moulton's Flutter was released in May, 2011. Check out this gorgeous cover:

(Philomel: 05/12/2011)

Wow, these complementary colors are so appealing and offer nice contrast. The blue makes the orange tones of the hands and the butterfly just pop. And the focus: the butterfly and the fingers are clear, but the hands stretching out behind them give an ethereal feel to the whole picture--as if someone snatched this butterfly out of their dream and brought it to life.

Her editor at Penguin Books, Jill Santopolo, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:

JK: What inspired you to use the image(s) chosen for this cover?

JS: We were so lucky with Flutter because Erin wove a motif of monarch butterflies throughout the story. The butterflies were so meaningful in the text that when the art director, the jacket designer and I met to talk about the cover, we knew that they would be part of the image.

JK: What other projects are in the pipeline for you?

JS: A ton of other projects are in the pipeline, but I think one that would be interesting to you Jacket Knack-ers is Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey (coming out in December 2011). Check out this jacket! ( It's a totally different look than Flutter, but I think they're both stunning. Three cheers for the Penguin art department!

...Erin Moulton:

... Jill Santopolo:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Let's Hear It For The Girls (and see them too)

A friend shared an article that commented on the finding that males are represented more in children's books than females. Specifically they looked at main characters and names in the titles. (view study at:

Instantly a list of beloved female protagonists came to mind. The question was: Were these girls on the book covers?

In the case of favorites such as Anne of Green Gables, Julie of the Wolves, and even Nancy Drew the main characters were on the covers. But what about others?

I searched the bookshelves and found that it depends. For example, the first edition of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Harper & Brothers, 1943) there is no sign of Francie on the cover. But the Harper Perennial 2005 version has used her as the focal point (love the mirror image position of the tree).

The same is true for Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. The UK edition was titled Northern Lights (Scholastic Point, 1995) and features the compass but no characters. The Alfred A Knopf 2007 publication has Lyra sharing the cover.

And my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Turtleback Books, 1999) opted for the no character cover whereas the 2002 Harper Perennial cover found a girl to be the face of Scout.

Looking at recent publications, there are some great examples of covers that embrace their female characters.
by Kate Coombs (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2009)

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
(First Second, 2010)

Have any favorite books with female protagonists? Are they on the cover?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything--Blog Tour!

Know what? Tween covers don't get enough attention on Jacket Knack. I think it's because so many of them use cover art that's about as visually interesting as a bowl of oatmeal. Stick with the familiar, these designers seem to be thinking; stick with what kids are used to.

Then along comes Abigail Halpin, the illustrator for Uma Krishnaswami's new novel, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, (Atheneum, 2011. Designed by Caitlyn Dlouhy) and we sit up and take notice. Read an interview with Abigail Halpin about the making of this book here.

Dini, a Bollywood obsessed, aspiring screenwriter, age eleven, finds out that her family is moving--to India! But not to Bombay, the Bollywood center where films are produced. Instead, they're moving to a tiny town, the center of nowhere.

Halpin's Dini looks clever, cute and independent, don't you agree? The artist made her fit inside a map of India so that the country's borders create a frame around her. And the hand lettering for the title is a tween-friendly touch. (See an early sketch of the cover, with a different title (!) at Got Story Countdown.

So, I asked Uma to give us her thoughts on the cover art. Did it differ from what she expected? Were there any changes made along the way? Here's Uma's response:
From Uma: 
Here's what I hoped the jacket wouldn't be: 
1. pink, like many humorous books with girl protagonists. 
2. red and gold, like 90% of books with Indian settings published in the US.
It's neither, and I was very pleased about that. 
I love the image of the protagonist, Dini. I hadn't planted a single visual cue about Dini's appearance in the book, and yet she looks very much as I imagined her. Rather, it's clear that Abigail mined the text for cues to Dini's personality and energy, and used them to bring the character to life in this jacket. 
I also love the map. I did suggest changing Mumbai (the correct current name of the city) to Bombay, to be consistent with the book, in which "filmi people" still insist on calling the city by its old name. The location of the fictional town of Swapnagiri got shifted a bit to make it sit more squarely in the real Blue Mountains. 
Finally, I can claim credit for the tangled arrows on the back that reflect the mega movie star Dolly's state of mind! It was my little contribution to the design and I'm happy to say that it draws the eye quite nicely to itself, much as Dolly draws attention to herself in the book. 
Read more about Uma and her writing process in this interview with Jessie Grearson at Kirkus Reviews.

Uma Krishnaswami is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts and she was my second semester advisor--lucky me! --- CB

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Open Road Beckoning

Motion toward, motion away. Consider images of train tracks, roads, etc. on children's book covers and what they suggest to a potential reader. They can visually draw the reader into the book. They can evoke a sense of running away, loneliness, or hint at an adventure to come.

Clare Vanderpool's Moon Over Manifest (Delacorte, 2010. Read a summary/review.) is an interesting study. The cover of this Newbery Award-winning novel (which I haven't read yet [blushes]) tells us . . . what? Here's a girl in a rural setting who is alone, but perhaps not lonely. She is going . . . home? Wandering away from home?

A forest path converges on this cover, and there is a light ahead which surrounds the young boy's head like a halo.

Desperate Measures by Laura Summers
(Putnam, US Edition, 2011)
We are confident that we will enjoy traveling with Fred and Ted on their excellent adventure:

Fred and Ted's Road Trip
by Peter Eastman (P.D. Eastman's son)
(Random House, 2011)
A journey. Fear? Hope? Anticipation?

Crossing the Tracks
by Barbara Stuber
(Margaret K. McElderry, 2010)

Motion toward/motion away. Conflict, contrast:

Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw
(Lemniscaat USA, Translated from
Dutch, paperback edition, 2011)

This sidewalk leads to adventure at school:

Skippyjon Jones: Class Action
by Judy Schachner
(Dutton, coming July, 2011)
I'd like to proudly point out that in the same post I have managed to juxtapose Skippyjon Jones with John Grisham. Here's his latest book for young readers complete with a converging bridge:

Theodore Boone: The Abduction
by John Grisham
(came out today, Dutton, 2011)

What about converging/diverging lines in general? They can be attention-grabbers.

Love this cover for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler because of the way it represents the vastness of the museum, and by contrast the puniness of the kids.

Evocative of loneliness or contemplation:

The Six Rules of Maybe
by Deb Caletti
(Simon Pulse, 2010)
Similar image, thoughtful but less lonely:

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
(Flux, 2011)
May your summertime travels be safe and lead to all good things.


I am most grateful to author Trent Reedy for the idea for this post. Thanks, Mr. Reedy!

I apologize for missing last week's post. Family emergency, but I'm happy to report that all is well now